News

Congress, the Administration, and the Iraqi Opposition

Iraq News, OCTOBER 5, 1998

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .





I.  NYT EDITORIAL, "A DANGEROUS POKER GAME WITH IRAQ," OCT 4
II.  STATE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, TO REP BEN GILMAN, OCT 2
III. SAAD RASHID, THE CIA AND THE INA, IRAQ NET POSTING, OCT 3
IV.  L. MYLROIE , "IRAQ'S REAL COUP," WASH POST, JUN 28, 1992

   This is the 61st day without weapons inspections in Iraq.

   The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the six Iraqi opposition 
members detained in Los Angeles has been rescheduled for Thurs, Oct 8, 
at 9:00 AM.  

   The NYT, Oct 3, "Seeing no Change in UN Policy, Iraq Will Deny Access 
to Inspectors," reported that Iraq "decided Friday not to resume 
cooperation with arms inspectors after days of hints that a change of 
policy could be imminent."  Nonetheless, Tariq Aziz and Kofi Annan are 
to meet again on Wed, while UNSCOM will present its semi-annual report 
on Iraq's proscribed weapons this week. 
  The NYT editors, yesterday, in "A Dangerous Poker Game with Iraq," 
warned, "In altering its approach to Iraq, the Clinton Administration is 
blundering into a policy that allows Saddam Hussein to rebuild a deadly 
arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.  That makes it all the more 
repugnant that the Administration is trying to discredit and intimidate 
Scott Ritter, a former top United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq who 
is rightly sounding an alarm about the developments in Baghdad."

    Following the introduction of the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998" into 
the House and Senate [see "Iraq News," Sept 29 (2)], State's Asst 
Secretary for Legislative Affairs wrote the chairman of the House 
International Relations Committee, Rep. Benjamin Gilman [R. NY], 
explaining that "the Administration sympathizes with the sentiments" 
underlying the legislation.  But the Administration "requested 
modifications to the policy statement section of the legislation, and we 
need flexibility in the designation of opposition groups.  If we can 
continue to address these concerns as the bill moves to the House floor, 
we will not oppose its passage.  We would note, however, that we must 
continue to think carefully about the impact of this bill on our 
diplomacy in the UN Security Council.  UN Security Council resolutions 
do not call for Saddam's ouster, and the Council is critical to our 
efforts to support UNSCOM and maintain sanctions. Furthermore, there is 
much to be done with the Iraqi opposition before it would be able to 
utilize to good effect the kinds of support provided in this 
legislation."
   The bill, HR 4655, passed the committee.  Two changes were made to 
the original legislation.  The language, "It should be the policy of the 
United States to seek to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from 
power in Iraq" was changed to "It should be the policy of the United 
States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein 
from power in Iraq"  Also language was added, "Nothing in this Act shall 
be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of United States 
Armed Forces (except as provided in section 4 (a) (2)) in carrying out 
this Act." 

   Yet whatever the White House position toward the "Iraq Liberation Act 
of 1998" may be, suspicion exists that the CIA is trying to sabotage it, 
through an effort to cobble together a broader opposition group, based 
around its failed client, the Iraqi National Accord (Wifaq). The idea 
seems to be to try to make the INA, a bunch of ex-Baathists, respectable 
enough to displace the Iraqi Nat'l Congress [INC], which really does 
aspire to democracy in Iraq, as the main recipient of the 
Congressionally-mandated assistance.
   Saad Rashid, a UK-based Iraqi opposition figure, explained recent 
developments in this complex intrigue, in a message posted on "Iraq 
Net," the largest and most popular Iraq site on the web-- 
http://www.iraq.net/links.html   Rashid wrote that the INA [also Wifaq] 
was "being used by the CIA to sabotage the resolution introduced in the 
Congress by creating problems within the Iraqi opposition ... Two weeks 
ago, the Wifaq organized a conference for 'human rights' in the Dutch 
capital, Hague, which they claimed was being financed by Qasim Dawood, a 
wealthy and respected Iraqi merchant living in the United Arab Emirates. 
However, Qasim Dawood has publicly denied any involvement with the 
Wifaq, which is headed by Ayad Allawi, Tahseen Mualla, and Sallah al 
Sheikhly, all of whom are Baathists who worked for years with Saddam's 
regime.  What Ayad Allawi and Sallah Al Sheikhly did not tell people 
that this conference was paid for ($320,000) by the CIA to 'overcome the 
paralysis of the INC' as they claimed. The conference failed miserably. 
. . 
  "My source also asserted that Ayad Allawi was brought over to 
Washington last week by the CIA on a secret visit... He stayed at the 
Key Bridge Marriot where he met several CIA officers over several days 
to discuss plans of sabotaging the new congress resolution for 
supporting the Iraqi opposition with military assistance which was 
designated to being a support for the INC under Dr. Ahmad Al-Chalabi... 
The plan is to create a division within the executive committee of the 
INC... The Iraqi opposition will look like a bunch of back-stabbing 
idiots who are running after the 99 million dollars the Congress is 
giving to the opposition.... Maybe the CIA hates the INC because they 
could not control them and INC does not use their cheap tactics of 
bombing civilians [ED: the Wifaq's bombing of civilian targets in 
Baghdad was made public in the spring of 1996 in articles by Jim 
Hoagland and Patrick Coburn] and because the INC wants to overthrow 
Saddam and create a democratic country with no commitments to such bad 
name American organization (CIA)."
   Indeed, the CIA did sponsor the INA conference in the Hague and 
brought its chief, Allawi, to Wash DC in late Sept to discuss how to 
proceed with the Iraqi opposition, while the CIA has apparently told 
others, like the Israelis, that it has a plan to carry out a coup 
against Saddam.  [The Mossad seems to be relying on the CIA for its 
information on Iraq].  And Warren Marik, a former CIA case officer, told 
"Iraq News" that he learned from friends of family members of some of 
the prisoners detained in California that Allawi didn't visit the INA 
prisoners there, while he was in the US or even talk to them.

   The CIA has long favored trying to overthrow Saddam through a coup, 
while opposing the effort to overthrow Saddam through a popular 
insurgency, as detailed in the Feb 7 Peter Jennings special on Iraq.  
And the CIA seems to be digging in its heels anew.  Partly, that is an 
Arabist mentality within the Near East division; partly the belief that 
the consequences of a coup would be less messy, easier to handle; 
partly, under the Clinton administration, that reflects the influence of 
CIA director, George Tenet.  Since his days at the NSC, in charge of 
intelligence affairs, Tenet has favored a coup, while he was opposed to 
the idea of helping the democratic opposition to remove Saddam.  In the 
summer of '94, he opposed providing the INC with funds for a 
peace-keeping force to maintain a Kurdish cease-fire.  When he was moved 
to the # 2 position at the CIA in early '95, his attitude remained the 
same--the infighting among the Kurds would be resolved once the coup in 
Baghdad occurred.  
   Of course, the coup never came/comes.  But like Charlie Brown, Lucy, 
and the football, hope springs eternal.  Ayyad Alawi is a creature of 
Western--originally UK--intelligence, with whom he became associated in 
the mid-1970's.  Following Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, MI-6 promoted 
Allawi, and the Saudis took him on, within the INA.  But the 
organization was penetrated from the get-go.  
   As I wrote in the Wash Post, Jun 28, 1992, shortly before the Gulf 
war began, London-based Iraqi opposition figures told me that one INA 
member, Salah Omar al-Tirkiti, claimed to have a list of military 
officers who would make a coup.  Among them was his cousin, Hakam 
al-Tikriti, head of Iraq's helicopter squadrons.  When Gen. Norman 
Schwarzkopf, in the Mar 3, 1991 talks at Safwan, allowed Iraq to fly 
helicopters, which then proceeded to play a key role in suppressing the 
post-war uprisings, it seemed odd.  Had Schwarzkopf heard the 
helicopters were going to make a coup?
   Toward the end of the Safwan meeting, according to the declassified 
transcript, the head of the Iraqi delegation, Gen. Sultan Hashim Ahmad, 
told Schwarzkopf, "Helicopter flights sometimes are needed to carry some 
of the officials, government officials or any members . . . to carry 
some of the officials, government officials or any members . . . to be 
transported from one place to another because the roads and bridges are 
out."  Schwarzkopf understood that in terms of their previous discussion 
on how to safely separate the tangled military lines.  He replied by 
telling Ahmad how to mark helicopters to avoid being shot at.  But Ahmad 
then said, "This has nothing to do with the front line.  This is inside 
Iraq."  Schwarzkopf then replied emphatically, "As long as it is not 
over the part we are in, that is absolutely no problem.  So we will let 
the helicopters and that is a very important point, and I want to make 
sure that's recorded, that military helicopters can fly over Iraq.  Not 
fighters, not bombers."  Ahmad said, "So you mean even the helicopters . 
. . armed in the Iraqi skies can fly, but not the fighters?  Because the 
helicopters are the same, they transfer somebody."  Schwarzkopf said 
"Yeah.  I will instruct our Air Force not to shoot at any helicopters 
that are flying over the territory of Iraq where we are not located.  If 
they must fly over the area we are located in, I prefer that they not be 
gunships, armed helos, and I would prefer that they have an orange tag 
on the side as an extra safety measure."  
  Schwarzkopf gave the Iraqis such generous leeway regarding helicopter 
flights that he was prepared even to let armed Iraqi helicopters fly 
over coalition troops.  As a number of military officers told me, that 
was a very imprudent concession.  And Schwarzkopf said quite the reverse 
in a Mar 27, 1991 interview with David Frost, in which he asserted that 
he firmly told the Iraqis that they could not fly over coalition forces. 
To this day, Schwarzkopf has never really explained his instructions at 
Safwan regarding the flight of Iraqi helicopters.

   A year later, in Jul 92, Saddam arrested and executed officers 
involved in an INA-sponsored coup and did the same in Jun 96.  Moreover, 
the INA tries to portray itself as part of the Sunni Arab "core," the 
20% of the Iraqi population, beloved of Arabist-types, who seem to 
believe that it is okay, even desirable, for a part of the Iraqi 
population that is roughly the same percentage of the population as the 
whites of South Africa, to rule in Baghdad.  Even so, Ayad Alawi is a 
Shi'a Arab and Salah Sheikhly is half Kurdish, half Turkoman.  
   Moreover, it is strange that eight years after Alawi and the INA 
first promised to carry out a coup to overthrow Saddam, an agency of the 
USG should adopt the position that the US should turn again to those who 
have failed so consistently, for so long.  But maybe it is not so 
strange.  The dominant voices regarding Iraq-the Phebe Marrs & etc.-have 
been wrong at almost every critical turning point over the past eight 
years.  Apparently, the key to success in the Iraq business is to be 
wrong together, and in a way that pleases and satisfies authority, 
particularly by making a difficult problem easy, or at least easier, at 
least in the short term. 


II. STATE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, TO REP BEN GILMAN
United States Department of State
Washington, D C 20520
Oct 2, 1998
The Honorable Benjamin Gilman 
Chairman
Committee on International Relations 
US House of Representatives
Dear Mr. Chairman 
  This is in response to your letter concerning the position of the 
Department of State on HR 4655, related to Iraq.
  The Administration sympathizes with the sentiments underlying this 
proposal.  Clearly, the world and the Iraqi people wou1d be better off 
with Saddam gone and a democratic government in place in Baghdad.
   The Administration has communicated several proposed changes to the 
legislation to committee staff, and we have had a usefu1 dialogue.  In 
particular, the Administration has requested modifications to the policy 
statement section of the legislation, and we need flexibility in the 
designation of opposition groups.  If we can continue to address these 
concerns as the bill moves to the House floor, we wi1l not oppose its 
passage.
  We would note, however, that we must continue to think carefully about 
the impact of this bill on our dip1omacy in the UN Security Council.  UN 
Security Council resolutions do not call for Saddam's ouster, and the 
Council is critical to our efforts to support UNSCOM and maintain 
sanctions.  Furthermore, there is much to be done with the Iraqi 
opposition before it would be able to uti1ize to good effect the kinds 
of support provided in this legislation.
   We appreciate the opportunity to offer our views regarding this 
legislation.
Sincere1y,
Barbara Larkin [signed]
Assistant Secretary
Legislative Affairs


III. SAAD RASHID, THE CIA AND THE INA
Date/Time: 10/3/98 7.45 AM
Subject: Fresh Inside Story & Urgent Call
By Saad Rashid
Dear all,
   I just received a fax from a friend in London who is very close to 
Al-Wifaq movement (opposition group) saying that the Wifaq Movement, 
also known as the Iraqi National Accord (INA), is being used by the CIA 
to sabotage the resolution introduced in the Congress by creating 
problems within the Iraqi opposition.
   Since very little resistance can be put by the CIA against the 
Congress in America, they are going to discredit the Iraqi opposition by 
using the Wifaq to create divisions and lobby within the opposition 
against the INC headed by Dr. Ahmed Al-Chalabi.
   Two weeks ago, the Wifaq organized a conference for "human rights" in 
the Dutch capital, Hague, which they claimed was being financed by Qasim 
Dawood, a wealthy and respected Iraqi merchant living in the United Arab 
Emirates. However, Qasim Dawood has publicly denied any involvement with 
the Wifaq which is headed by Ayad Allawi, Tahseen Mualla and Sallah Al 
Sheikhly, all of whom are Ba'athists who worked for years with Saddam's 
regime.
  What Ayad Allawi and Sallah Al Sheikhly did not tell people that this 
conference was paid for ($320,000) by the CIA to "overcome the paralysis 
of the INC" as they claimed. The conference failed miserably because of 
very poor attendance and because the participants refused to fall into 
their trap of slandering the INC, focusing instead on discussing human 
rights issues.
   My friend told me that three days ago, the ill-reputed Al-Quds 
Al-Arabi paper (well-known as the trumpet of Saddam propaganda) 
published the news of the recent defections from Al-Wifaq by Maath Abdul 
Raheem.  The Wifaq has had a long history of defections such as that of 
Baathi, Salah Umar Ali, in 1993, and infiltration by the regime's agents 
which worked to set up coup traps which uncovered the intentions of 
hundreds of officers who wanted to work against Saddam and who were 
summarily executed.  Al Quds also reported on the assassination attempt 
against General Tawfiq Al Yasiri ordered by Ayad Allawi six weeks ago in 
the middle of London where unknown assailants opened fire on his car. 
This is typical Ba'athi behaviour. Please refer to the news I quoted 
yesterday with regards to al-Wifaq hideous tactics in bombing Iraqi 
civilians in the past.
  My source also asserted that Ayad Allawi was brought over to 
Washington last week by the CIA on a secret visit (because as a 
recipient of CIA fuding, he is prevented by US law from talking publicly 
about Iraq in the US). He stayed at the Key Bridge Marriot where he met 
several CIA officers over several days to discuss plans of sabotaging 
the new congress resolution for supporting the Iraqi opposition with 
military assistance which was designated to being a support for the INC 
under Dr. Ahmad Al-Chalabi. (INC should be notified with these 
information and that's why I'm posting it in public).
   The plan is to create a division within the executive committee of 
the INC and enticing those members who froze their membership in the 
executive council of the INC like Massood Barazani, Hassan Al-Nakeeb to 
say that Ahmad Al-Chalabi does not have anything to do with the INC, and 
that he is not a credible opposition leader. The effect of this is that 
the Iraqi opposition will look like a bunch of back-stabbing idiots who 
are running after the 99 million dollars, the Congress is giving to the 
opposition.  Apparently, the Congress trusts and respects Dr. Ahmad, but 
they will definitely lose interest in supporting the Iraqi opposition 
when the divisions being engineered by the CIA using the Wifaq are 
exposed. Maybe the CIA hates the INC because they could not control them 
and INC does not use their cheap tactics of bombing civilians, and 
because the INC wants to overthrow Saddam and create a democratic 
country with no commitments to such bad name American organization 
(CIA).
  What do you think folks. I consider what the Wifaq is doing as treason 
and betrayal to our public cause.  In principle, the Congress 
resolutions are a golden, it's a unique opportunity to get rid of 
Saddam' s regime, indict the regime, and to help the Iraqi people in a 
post-Saddam Iraq.  Any attempt to sabotage this is a crime against the 
Iraqi people and their future which should not go unpunished.
   I suggest, my dear fellow countrymen/women as an independent Iraq, we 
should all call the Wifaq office and Ayad Allawi and Salah Al Sheikhly 
in London and tell them one sentence only:
  We know about your stupid plans to sabotage the Iraqi liberation ACT 
1998. Don't kill our hope and have some dignity for once.
  Their office tel. Number: +0181 543 9282 or +0181 942 5676
  Best regards, 
  Saad Rashid
Note: We can't afford silence when it comes to our last hope.  Our 
people dying back home while the harsh sanctions are designed forever 
once Saddam in power.
   I already phoned them.  They were like rats.  They didn't know what 
to say.  Kept asking me who told you and where are you and who else do 
know about Allawi-CIA recent talks. One word to describe them: jerks.